March 13, 2019 | Hannah Leasure

Hannah Leasure’s Mother attempts to give her medication

On Christmas Eve 2013, I was admitted to hospital, where I stayed until April 2014. I had the RARE autoimmune disease called anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. It took the doctors months to figure out what I had. I almost lost my life, BUT I lived through it. It was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Surviving was the EASY part.

The hard part? Having to go day by day for months, just lying there pretty much dead. My pulse was 60/30. My body wouldn’t move but my brain was 100% irritated. Blood transfusions, donor blood plasma, feeding tubes, wires, spinal taps, being in the ICU, I can go on and on.

After coming back to it, I had to re-learn who my family was… including my parents. I had to re-learn how to say basic words like “hello”. I had to learn how to walk again. I couldn’t use my legs, I couldn’t use my arms. I was catatonic. It was like I was dead but there was still a pulse. I had to re-learn how to chew and swallow. I was stuck with a feeding tube for the longest.

Seeing my scar every day reminds me of how badass I am, and I will never forget that. I couldn’t do anything for myself.  While having to get through this, I was getting through it with my heart shattered because the one who I wanted there the most was never there. I cried every day. “I just want to go home!” “Why can’t I be normal?”

Not only am I a survivor but I am a fighter. I fought every day to be who I was before all of this… that normal 17-year-old senior high school girl, like the rest of my friends.

So, every day, I got up out of that hospital bed, wiped my tears away and said to myself “girl you got this”. I finished all of my therapy because I knew fighting was the only way to get this done.

After going through all of this, I got out out of hospital to realize that a huge rumor spread all around town saying that I got my disease from smoking K2 spice. Obviously THIS. IS. A. LIE. My medical records state that, and I still have them.

So, with all of this being said, I went through a lot from having to dealing with this, losing friends, having to start my life over but I would not trade any of it for the world because this made me who I am today. I was a teenage girl who went through an awful depression, who was paralyzed. Now I am a strong woman. I am walking, I can run, I can bend, I can eat, I have a great job, I have a wonderful boyfriend, I have my family and great friends.

We all have trials in life, it’s up to us how we control it.

 I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. Praise God.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

 Hannah’s book, Glowing After the Darkness, was published in 2016 and is available on Amazon. 

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International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES) is a Family/Patient centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. 

Driven by the knowledge that “Education is Power”, International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society manages an educational support group for patients diagnosed with Autoimmune Encephalitis and their loved ones, empowering them to be strong self-advocates and advocates that will lead them to best outcomes and recovery. We are the premiere organization leading in these vital roles.

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